All you need to know about U.S. sim cards as an immigrant
Living Abroad H1B L1 visa

All you need to know about U.S. sim cards as an immigrant

Moumita Basu

Table of Contents

Changing sim cards feel like a massive pain when you’re moving cross country. First, when you land at the airport, there is a big chance that you might get ripped off buying a SIM card there or navigating to town without any connectivity. Once you’re in town, you have to navigate a foreign city sifting through local SIM providers, various plans, and probably getting lost.

The U.S. is a popular destination, and Indian cellular service providers have many customized options for U.S. immigrants. These include international SIM cards, roaming facility with the existing SIM card, and single-use calling cards. Getting an international sim card means cheaper call rates and assured coverage across borders than the rates offered by your home provider. Hence, finding a convenient cell phone plan for an Indian traveler to the U.S. is simple and accessible.

It would help if you kept in mind that many of these international SIM cards for mobile phones are specific to the country you are visiting. Alternatively, international SIM cards work in almost all countries. Therefore, it is essential to purchasing the correct SIM card for the U.S. trip.

Local sim card option within the U.S. for Indian visitors

While you are trying to decide whether to use an existing Indian SIM card in the U.S., you must be aware of the alternatives available locally in the U.S. Buying a local sim card in the U.S. has its advantages. You can go for a prepaid option with a limited number of days of usage. It would help if you had your valid passport to purchase a local SIM card at any U.S. airport.

Sim card provider

Price/month 

Data 

Benefits 

Total Wireless 

$35

5GB

  • Unlimited talk time, text messages

  • Verizone-powered cell service

  • No credit check

  • $10 global calling card 

  • CDMA enabled 

StraightTalk 

$35-$60

2GB- $35

8GB- $45

12GB- $55


  • Unlimited calls and texts with 8GB data for $60 

  • Unlimited texts with 100MB data for $30 

  • International calls for $10 


Simple Mobile 

$25-$60

1GB high speed for $25 

  • International calling and texting 

  • Call service powered by T-mobile network

  • No credit score needed 

  • Ready to work with any unlocked GSM phone 

Tracfone 

$15


  • Stop service anytime 

  • No credit check 

  • Works with both GSM/CDMA 

  • International call at U.S. rates 

Verizon

$35-$80

3GB

  • Unlimited calling and texting 

  • No credit check

  • No contract 

  • Low-cost international calling 

  • CDMA phone compatible 

Republic Wireless

$15-$90

Unlimited 

Android phone for $179 

T-mobile prepaid 

$50

10GB LTE 

  • Stateside international calls for $15/month

  • Unlimited calls to Canada and Mexico for $5/month 

  • Unlimited calling and texting 

Some other options you can look into:

Reliance passport

This offers both postpaid and prepaid sim cards. While you won’t be able to retain your Indian number, it allows you to own the international number permanently and use it in India.

Clay Global

This comes with free incoming calls with limited airtime for outgoing and local calls. They offer the SIM card for free once you purchase one of their international plans.

Lyca

This offers unlimited local and international calls and comes with many cheap options for global sim cards.

Things to remember while choosing a U.S. sim card

You might feel flustered with so many options but don’t buy one without comparing. Following are the tips you should keep in mind when you are planning to buy a U.S. sim card:

Travel duration

You should base your decision on how long you will stay in the U.S. If you have a year-long visa or more, consider getting a local sim card since it will save you a lot of money. When you have one-month access, you should not buy a 10 days or 3 months sim card plan.

Sim connectivity

Most phones these days come with both CDMA and GSM options if your phone doesn’t support any in the U.S., research for the ones that will work best for you during your visit to the U.S.

Data requirements

If you spend a lot of time on the internet or running a business that you want to operate remotely, you can’t take a risk by buying fewer usage plans. So choose the best data plan as per your requirements.

If you are planning to apply for an H1B visa,  sign up for a Zolve Credit Card and Zolve Bank Account, and start building your credit footprint in the country from Day 1.